From Booze to Condoms and Heavy Metal: a Brief history of Bundesliga Shirt Sponsors

The decision of third division Erzgebirge Aue to eschew a shirt sponsor and use their own fans as the visual on the front of their shirts next season has become a talking point recently. Kumpelverein – weil wir anders sind (because we’re different) goes against the grain of clubs selling out to big business so that brands and companies can emblazon their names across Bundesliga shirts.

Looking back down the years though, and there are more than a few occasions when you have to stop and ask yourself, “what were they thinking?” There are numerous (shall we say curious) episodes of shirt sponsoring. Here at the Fanatic, we’ve brought you the best of the worst.

It all kicked-off back in March 1973 when Eintracht Braunschweig President Ernst Fricke found the club in financial difficulties. A meeting with Jägermeister executive Günter Mast brought the idea to splash the herbal liqueur brand across the Eintracht Braunschweig shirt.

Eintracht Braunschweig's iconic shirt.
Eintracht Braunschweig’s iconic shirt.

The Breitner ‘stache and a few shots- what could be more German?

Legend has it that the company’s deer logo had to be measured by referee Franz Mengenmeyer to see if it was acceptable. Replacing the club’s lion with the Jägermeister deer started the ball rolling as far as Bundesliga shirt sponsorship was concerned.

Into the mid-80’s and the controversy heightened when Homburg FC President Manfred Ommer was desperate for a sponsor so signed a deal with condom manufacturer the London Rubber Company.

Homburg FC's controversial shirt sponsorship.
A condom maker grace Homburg FC’s shirt.

The DFB took umbrage and denied Homburg permission for the endorsement on the grounds that it was “unethical”. Ommer duly took out an injunction to be able to wear the London brand and Homburg did their bit to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STD’s. Good work!

Microsoft and Apple may dominate the world of computing these days, but back in the day Bayern Munich sponsors Commodore were the leading lights, although kids nowadays would be shocked to see what made youngsters back then excited.

Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich trumpeting a former computer all-star.

The VIC 20 and the Commodore 64 were the elite of modern computers, but alas unlike Bayern’s success, the Commodore brand is largely demoted to the bin of nostalgia. Anyone for a game of Blitz?

It’s got to be pretty tough as a midfielder trying to stamp your authority on a match and intimidate your opposite numbers when you have “Mr. Softy” in two-inch high letters spread across your shirt.

This is NOT a joke. Poor MSV Duisburg.


Spare a thought then for the players of MSV Duisburg back in the 1984/85 season when a dairy company sponsored the club.

What happens when a bad sponsor combines with a bad kit design? VfL Bochum of the late 1990’s is what happens. The company that ran the German lottery Faber sponsored the club for a few seasons, but then wanted to raise the profile of their rainbow logo even more.

Hide your eyes. They deserve better than VfL Bochum's shirt disaster.
Hide your eyes. They deserve better than VfL Bochum’s shirt disaster.

They became in effect the club’s shirt manufacturer and went on to produce quite possibly one of the most horrendous kits ever to grace a Bundesliga stadium.

Should shirt sponsorship be cool? Well it was between 2001 and 2003 when a German punk band from Düsseldorf – die Toten Hosen – were the shirt sponsor for cash-strapped Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Punk meets football for F95.
Punk rock meets football for F95.

The skull logo appearing on the kit soon became a favourite amongst fans and was just another way for the rockers to help their beloved team. They even once provided 200.00 DM to help with the purchase of Anthony Baffoe.

The “Dead Trousers,” as die Toten Hoesen translates, were the forerunners with heavy metal band Heaven Shall Burn also sponsoring their team Carl Zeiss Jena.

Karl Zeiss Jena brings extreme metal to the pitch.

The extreme metal band from Saalfeld are promoting the ‘Support Your Local Team’ initiative.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.